Bill Belichick has always been a defensive-minded coach. In fact, he has drafted some talented linebackers for his defenses over the years. I’m talking about some really good players like Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and more recently, Josh Uche. In addition to the talented linebackers Belichick drafted over the years, he has also routinely had a star linebacker on that Patriots defense. Guys like Ted Johnson and Teddy Bruschi, just to name a couple.
First-round linebackers have proven they can make an immediate impact. For example, we also all saw how much of an impact the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s second-year linebacker Devin White had this past season, and in the Buccaneers Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Cheifs.
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has a chance to be that next young, stud linebacker if the Patriots are able to select him in the NFL Draft.
So who exactly is this talented linebacker? Let’s take a closer look at him.
Name: Micah Parsons
Size: 6’3”, 245 lbs
School: Penn State
Expected round: 1st
So Why is Parsons Worthy of a 1st Round Pick?
Draft Prospect: LB Micah Parsons @MicahhParsons11
•Has great size
•Excellent sideline to sideline speed
•Can stack + shed and take on blockers
•Shows comfort in space/coverage #Patriots #NFL #NFLDraft2021 #PennStateFball #PennState pic.twitter.com/jcVzq0tXck
— Kevin Tame Jr. (@Kevin_Tame) March 8, 2021
Parsons only played two years in college because he opted out of the 2020 college football season in order to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 to his two-year-old child.
In those two years, however, Parsons did more than enough to prove he is NFL-ready. He was a first-team freshman All-American in 2018. In 2019 he was the Big Ten’s Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, as well as first-team All-Conference by both the coaches and media
He earned that linebacker of the year award courtesy of a stat line of 109 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, and five pass deflections. Parsons was productive his freshman year, too, with 82 tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
You might recall Parsons dominating performance in the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic? Penn State defeated Memphis 53-39, but more importantly, Parsons was named the Defensive MVP of the game. He laid down the law by recording 14 tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.
As great as Parsons played, it’s only fair to point out some weaknesses. Of course, trying to find weaknesses in Parsons’ game is tough. One weakness is his work in coverage. He unquestionably shows some comfort in space, but I wouldn’t trust him against the Travis Kelce’s and Alvin Kamara’s of the world. Parsons has only broken up four passes in his two-year college career and spent most of his time playing in zone coverage.
Parsons is a solid tackler but is a catch tackler. He needs to explode through the ball carrier. One thing I noticed watching Parson’s highlights is that he tackles high and needs to work on getting lower. I’m not suggesting Parson isn’t strong enough to tackle NFL players, but if he continues to tackle high, he’s going to learn real quick just how much bigger and stronger, these NFL players really are.
Without a doubt, the biggest red flag with Parsons comes from his off-field behavior. Back in early 2020, a former Penn State player, Isaiah Humphries, filed a lawsuit claiming that Parsons, along with some other players, headlined a hazing scandal. Humphries stated in the lawsuit that he had “record evidence” documenting that he was victimized by Parsons on March 26, 2018, in the Morgan Academic Center on campus. It doesn’t appear that this scandal is hurting Parson’s draft stock, but facts are facts, and this hazing scandal cannot be ignored.
It remains to be seen what the Patriots do with their draft picks, but we’ll get some answers soon because the NFL Draft takes place in just under two months. For what it’s worth, Parsons would be a tremendous addition to the Patriot’s defense.
–Kevin Tame Jr. is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Tame